There are approximately 100 species of fuchsias and many thousands of hybrids and varieties.
They are native to Central and South America from Mexico to Patagonia. Some are native to Tahiti and Fiji.
Fuchsias can be classified into species, hybrids and varieties, or "alternatively" are sometimes grouped according to growth habit as follows:
Here follows a brief overview of some of the fuchsia species (Note: syn. – indicates ‘synonymous’ or alternative names that have at one stage been used, or are currently used, for a particular species).
F. alpestris (syn. F. regia variety)
F. ampliata (syn. F. ayavacensis)
From Peru and Ecuador. Grows 1 to 1.8m tall. Flower colour is coral apricot to red. Foliage can be deciduous.
F. apetala (syn. F. hirstua, F. macrantha, F. unduavensis)
From Peru. Clusters of long tubular pink and white flowers.
F. arborescens (syn. F. syringiflora)
From Central America. Can grow as high as 8 metres as a small tree, but more commonly grown as a large bush. Large elliptic leaves create attractive foliage. Flowers are commonly small, rose-lilac in colour and occur in erect, terminal panicles.
F. austromontana (syn F. serratifolia)
From cloud forests in Bolivia and Peru. Deciduous shrub to 1.8 metres tall with green oval shaped leaves. Avoid high humidity, extreme heat and drought. Mulch in areas with cold winters and avoid heavy frosts, but otherwise it is more cold-tolerant than many fuchsias. Prune back damaged foliage after winter. Berries are edible. Relatively hardy.
F. austromontana var. autumnale is a low growing, almost prostrate cultivar with leaves that start with green and coppery tones. As the foliage ages, the colours can become more vibrant. This plant is often grown in a hanging basket.
This species has no proper botanical standing; but may refer to plants such as F. austromontana var. autumnale that exhibit colours reminiscent of autumn foliage on deciduous trees.
F. ayavacensis (syn F. ampliata)
From Peru and Ecuador. A spreading shrub to 3 metres tall. Leaves are large and have white hairs on the surface. Flowers are up to 6cm long, orange to red.
From Mexico. A shrub to 30cm tall and 60cm spread with rich pink tubular flowers and glossy black round berries. On the young growth, stems are red. In a very cold winter it can become deciduous; but otherwise remains evergreen. If cut back hard, it normally regrows well in spring.
This species has no proper botanical standing.
Found in moist forests of the Andes including Peru, Bolivia, and northern Argentina at altitudes of 1800 to 3000 metres. An upright shrub to 3.5 metres tall; in cultivation it can develop an open or even sparse habit if not pruned. Susceptible to frosts, prefers semi- shade and needs moist soil. It grows in acid, neutral, or alkaline soils. Berries are edible. Long hanging tubular flowers can get to 8cm in length, deep crimson or lighter in colour and in panicle-like clusters. Leaves are soft and have a toothed margin.
Very hardy species, good rockery plant, flowers in summer.
From Brazil. Has soft leaves and red sepals. Stamens and stigma can extend to double the length of the petals and sepals.
From Ecuador. Has clusters of hanging pink tubular flowers with white tips.
To 1.4m tall and 2m or more in diameter. Grows in full sun or light shade. Pink or red and purple flowers. Deciduous foliage. It is more heat-tolerant than many fuchsias. Foliage can die at minus 6 degrees Celsius, but roots will survive more than minus 12°C.
This species has no proper botanical standing; has been used to describe a low-growing plant with purple and red flowers.
F. cinnabarina (syn. F. reflexa)
Origin is unknown. Introduced into cultivation in 1829. A vigorous-growing species to 50cm tall with tiny orange-red flowers and attractive berries. Hardy to minus 5 degrees Celsius.
From mountain forests in Ecuador and Columbia. In cultivation it grows to around 1metre, but in the wild some plants are reported to be 2 metres tall. Clusters of hanging long pink tubes inside orange-pink sepals; wider at the tip than the ovary end. Flowers to around 5cm in length. The plant flowers almost all year round. Large green fruits are edible, and have a slightly sweet taste.
Prefers partial or filtered sun; but not too much shade. Likes humidity at 40% or higher. Only tolerates very light frost. Can tolerate warm days if the nights are cool, but best to avoid extremes.
F. coccinea (syn. F. elegans, F. Montana, F. pendula, F. pubescens)
From southern parts of Brazil. Sometimes confused with F. magellanica. A fast-growing shrub to 3.5m tall. It flowers over summer into early autumn. Best in light shade. Red flowers. Fruit to around 1.7cm long is edible
spaces in garden beds. Place them here to add colour to an otherwise drab pocket of the garden.